Summary: Loving Like Christ
If you have your Bible, I want you to open with me to the book of 1 Peter, and I want you to go to chapter 5. Identity Check, Part 12. It has been a long, long journey. I know. We have one more message in this series, but today, most of this Scripture is about me as a pastor and about me as a shepherd, so you can rest a little easy today, a little bit, okay? You have a little bit at the end, but I get the spotlight turned on me, so to speak. Now, I want to read this opening passage. It is found in the book of 1 Peter. I want to read the first four verses to begin with. This is Peter, and he's writing to the pastors, the elders, of the church.
"So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory."
Legacy Church, I want you to know something with full assurance. You have the most gracious, most long-suffering, most humble pastor in the United States. In fact, I am assured that you have the greatest pastor in the entire world. I know this, because I'm not him. His name is Jesus. Amen. I am not, nor have I ever been the pastor of you. I am an under shepherd. I am an under shepherd under the Great Shepherd.
You are his sheep. You are his people. The Bible, in fact, calls you the very pride of his life and the apple of his eye, so to speak. You are special to him. You have been set aside. God loves you that much. Is it all right to brag just a little bit in the open about Jesus? He loves you completely. He loves you just like you are, but he loves you enough not to leave you where you are. I can promise you that. He loves you unconditionally. He doesn't have to have a perfect people or a perfect place in order to love you perfectly. That's who he is.
The Bible says, "For God so loved the world, that he…" What? "…gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him [would not] should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved." You know what that word saved means? You've been rescued. If you know God, if you've trusted Christ in your life, he has rescued you from a world that is broken, a world that is chaotic, a world that is after your moral makeup, a world that is after your very soul, your very being, and your humanness. It's after it.
It wants to shape you, but the moment you turn your life, that moment in time that you bow your heart, your mind, your soul, everything you are, you are bowing to a God who has drawn you by the power of his love and not condemnation. He has chased you. He has pursued you. He has special things for you. He loves you well. The reason I know that is because we can see it all through Scripture. We know Jesus left all of glory to come and be with you, to spend time with humanity, to be here. Right?